I don't know anyone else who has any good words about this little seen straight-to-video creepie, but I'll take issue with the other Amazon reviewer (see above) by claiming that for me it's a far more interesting work than the novel which inspired it, and the only really interesting movie adaptation of James Herbert. I'm surprised that the British cinema hasn't done more to capitalise on Herbert's international success; he's Britain's most succesful horror writer, and it's over thirty years since he hit the big time with the pornographically violent "The Rats". He's had a couple of dozen huge bestsellers since, but the only British movie adaptation has been Lewis Gilbert's wretched "Haunted".
"The Survivor" is an Australian picture-the novel was set in home counties Britain- made by actor/director Hemmings, an artistic refugee from the Britain after the box office failure of "Running Scared" and "The Fourteen", his first films as director, and it re-unites him with Robert Powell, star of "Running Scared".
Hemmings was an interesting actor and a maverick, highly variable director. His place in movie history was secured when, as a hopeful,unknown young actor he took the lead as a disillusioned fashion photographer in Michaelangelo Antonioni's brilliant and influential 1967 arthouse hit "Blow Up". It is the film for which he will be remembered, and it's influence- both visual and thematic- is clearly detectable in "The Survivor", which has a story and screenplay which Antonioni wouldn't have touched with a bargepole.
The plotline is delightfully macabre; a bomb explodes on a passenger plane during take-off. The pilot is the only survivor, and he is haunted by the voices of the dead,leading him on to investigate and finally unmask the lunatic culprit. Meanwhile, peripheral figures in the investigation are being destroyed by supernatural evil.
There are some unusual and rather effective scenes; a bizarre game played by children in a deserted field; the grim fate of a callous press photographer ("Blow-up" again)and the literally explosive finale in the wreckage of the plane.
The main problem is a woefully underdeveloped script; Joseph Cotton puts in a brief appearance as a concerned priest and the delectable Jenny Agguter plays a psychic who's apparently tuned in to Robert Powell's mental anguish, but neither of them emerge as more than vague plot cyphers, and though I've seen this movie twice, I still can't work out the saboteur's motive. Maybe production interference is to blame;
a running time of 82 minutes suggests that further scenes may have ended up on the cutting room floor.
Whatever, it's still a supernatural flick with more subtleties than most, and a nicely doom-laden feel. The final twist wasn't original at the time, but it was still used twenty years later in the absurdly overrated "The
Incidentally, has anybody out there got copies
of Hemming's "Running Scared" or "The Fourteen", which have hardly been seen in the U.K. since their original and short-lived cinema release, or have they joined the long list of "lost" British movies?